The product development and innovation consultancy Mattson released its Five Food & beverage Macro Trends for 2017 report that maps out major forces in the food and beverage industry that may require food companies to change things up beyond “just a line extension that includes the flavor du jour,” according to the company. (You can read the full report HERE)
These five trends are the rise of ‘perfectly imperfect’ foods, smart kitchen gadgets, cellular agriculture, as well as the fall of traditional retail and consumer trust in experts.
“We gain insight into future trends by virtue of the fact that our work today will hit the market in the next 12-24 months,” the report said. “We are, literally, developing the future. We also engage regularly with consumers, during the testing of foods, food behaviors, and new food ideas. Our clients range from individual entrepreneurs to the largest food companies in the world. As a result, we’re entrenched in how food innovation trends will impact both.”
Here are the top trends:
‘Perfectly Imperfect’ packaged goods
Millennial shoppers tend to be dissatisfied by what the food industry has traditionally seen as faults (think an off bitter flavour, or a funny texture). “In fact, they view them as badges of authenticity,” according to the report.
For example, there are more juices that reveal sediment and separation. New brands are popping up, such as Dieffenbach’s Uglies, that prides itself for using cosmetically-rejected potatoes to reduce food waste, presenting chips of different shades and shapes in the final bag.
“The end result is that our perception and definition of perfect food is changing and the momentum towards a cleaner food ethos is being defined as wholesome and real,” according to Mattson’s report. “Only time will tell if consumers will accept these “imperfect” products, but indications are that the under-30 crowd will—and willingly.”
Smart Kitchen improvements
New systems have been emerging that allows consumers to “enjoy something at home that usually requires unique skill, specialized equipment, lots of time, or results in a mess.”
Amazon is also paving the way for more convenience in restocking packaged items, such as their dash button or Alexa voice command.
Animal-based, to plant-based, to cellular
Plant-based products have enjoyed a good 2016, growing to $4.9bn in the year to June 12, 2016, according to data from SPINS. It’s the favoured phrase of the industry, as “the word vegan is so loaded with activist imagery from the ‘60s and ‘70s that it sounds scary and divisive,” according to Mattson President Barb Stuckey.
But a step beyond that is cellular technology that allows consumers to not have to substitute plants for eating meat or other animal-derived products while still standing for the environmental sustainability and animal rights stances that often lead to adapting a plant-based diet.
Companies like animal-free milk company Perfect Day and meat product maker Memphis Meats, aiming to fill markets with meat made in bioreactors to grocery stores by 2021, are poised to be “the next Ripple, Califia, and Beyond Meat,” the report said.
‘Eschewing traditional retailing’
Grocery still lags compared to other industries when it comes to online shopping, but companies are stepping up the game to enter the digital commerce space. Data from IRI expects online CPG sales will account for 10% of all sales by 2022.
It’s not all about online ordering and delivery—many companies are testing the click-and-pick-up model, such as Walmart’s gas station grocery pick-up.
Additionally, grocery stores and other food retailers are figuring out the best way to get consumers to purchase online, such as personal shopper services like Instacart, or the Amazon Go cashier-less concept store in Seattle that turns every item for sale into a grab-and-go.
‘Post-truth’ era in food and beverage
Oxford Dictionaries has declared 'post-truth' as its 2016 international word of the year. What does this mean, especially to the food and beverage space?
“From genetic modification to gluten, from sugar to supplements, consumers are getting their information from varying sources and have diverse opinions on subjects that impact food decisions everyday,” according to Mattson’s report. In other words, more consumers are trusting their gut or opinions of vocal influencers instead of experts.
At rethink Food 2016, Dr David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, told FoodNavigator-USA that: “If people stay confused about what a healthy diet is, you can keep selling the next and the next and the next diet book. And our culture has been making a ton of money out of sowing confusion, while the food industry has been exploiting the messages of experts and turning them into nonsense.”
You can find the full report HERE.